The ship reached Male today morning and aims to bring 700 repatriates to Indian soil
INS Jalashwa is busy making repatriation rounds for Indians stranded in foreign shores. After the successful homecoming to Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu of 685 passengers from the Colombo port in Sri Lanka on June 3, INS Jalashwa arrived in Male, the capital of the Maldives, on the morning of June 4.
The ship is all set to conduct another phase of repatriation under Operation Samudra Setu with plans to achieve the embarkation of around 700 individuals from Male to bring them back to Tuticorin port. Among the rescued are fishermen, stranded tourists, workers, and those with expired short-term visas. From the Tuticorin port, all the evacuees are sent to their respective districts, or other states such as Kerala, using government-issued buses.
The Center's call to action in the form of Operation Samudra Setu isn't devoid of safety guidelines and precautions. While the nation has been observing a lockdown since March 25, INS Jalashwa's crew and officials, along with naval authorities, have been promoting social-distancing norms and strict protocols on the ship.
As per instructions by V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust and district officials, evacuees undergo thermal screening along with the disinfection of their baggage by health professionals in protective gear. Commander Gaurav Durgapal, Executive Officer on INS Jalashwa, ensures that new masks are distributed to evacuees right after embarkation, which are subsequently replaced by new masks every day till disembarkment.
The ship itself has been divided into three efficient zones: the red zone offers accommodation for evacuees, the orange zone houses a designated team to assist evacuees, and the green zone which is reserved for the accommodation of officers and sailors, who don PPE kits as and when required.
INS Jalashwa, an amphibious transport ship otherwise reserved for expeditionary missions, has been employed by the Naval forces for Operation Samudra Setu. With four operation theatres, twelve bed-wards, medical labs, and more, the INS Jalashwa is suitably-equipped in medical facilities.
The evacuees, on touching homeland, are advised to adhere to home-quarantine rules for at least two weeks. For precautionary measures, district health officials oversee the procedure of taking swab samples from returnees right from their homes.
Operation Samudra Setu has carried out multiple phases of repatriation via the INS Jalashwa, in recent times. Earlier phases required the ship to make rounds from May 8-May 12, May 14-May 17, and June 1-June 3 to Male in the Maldives and Colombo in Sri Lanka. Cdr Durgapal believes that positive feedback from these earlier phases has significantly boosted morale.